Backpacking through Europe is a must-do adventure for any travel lover. Whether you are fresh out of school and ready for a gap year, taking a sabbatical, or just in need of a new adventure, there is absolutely something for everybody in Europe. Even if you’re on a budget.
Ah, Europe. The food in Italy, the mountains in Switzerland, and the fairy tale towns of Germany are the things that traveller dreams are made of. Of course, there’s that one teeny, tiny little thing we all need to think of first: money. And, thanks to the low Canadian dollar, that money doesn’t always go quite as far as we want it to. But, don’t worry because as daunting as it may seem, it’s actually pretty easy. Here are some expert travel tips for backpacking Europe on a budget!
Planning how to get from point A to point B is key when it comes to budget Europe travel. Unlike in Canada, once you are actually in Europe, travel is cheap, quick, and easy. Travellers can choose from trains, buses, planes, and even boats or car shares to get around so you will want to do some research ahead of time to find the best options.
Take Local Trains When Backpacking Europe on a Budget
Most new backpackers immediately go for the Eurail Pass, and while it’s not a bad option, it’s not the cheapest. Many European countries, such as Italy, have local trains that are a fraction of the price for what you would pay for the normal tourist routes. Sure, they are slower, but if you aren’t in a rush and love a scenic train ride, then there is nothing to worry about.
Hop on Buses
Another must when backpacking Europe on a budget is to take all the public transportation you can! Buses are another budget-friendly pick and they are often much nicer than the Greyhound ones we are used to here at home. Busabout and MegaBus are two of the most popular choices, offering cheap tickets to numerous cities across Europe and the UK. Of course, they are also often the longest option so, depending on how much time you have, they may or may not be the right pick for your trip.
Do Multi-City Flights
Another thing that many Canadian travellers going to Europe should know is that Europe has several low-cost airlines. You can get one-way tickets to nearby countries for just a few dollars if you hit the sales. Even if you don’t snag a coveted $3 seat, you can still find one-way flights for under $50. It’s definitely worth searching flights ahead of time and maybe even planning your schedule around the cheapest rates you can find.
Slower Travel = Cheaper Travel
It’s easy to get caught up in the thrill of backpacking through Europe and try to see as much as possible, but it’s also a lot pricier. Your travel days will be the most expensive, so cut down on them and plan to stay in places for longer (bonus: you will probably enjoy yourself more this way anyway). Another cost-cutting benefit of slower travel is you are more likely to buy your own groceries and cook for yourself, which is significantly cheaper than eating out. Plus, there are many hostels that only accept guests who stay minimum of three nights or hotels that offer discounts on longer stays.
Get Those Steps In!
European cities were made for walking. Stunning cobblestone streets, historic buildings, cute cafes and shops on every corner. Walking is, without a doubt, the best way to get around and it won’t cost you a thing. If you are travelling some distance, or the weather is horrible, choose public transportation over taxis. Surprisingly, many European cities have better public transit systems than most major Canadian cities, and they are generally pretty easy to navigate. If you think you will use the transit system a lot during your stay, purchase a multi-day pass over single tickets to save some money.
Choose Your Destinations Wisely
It’s so easy to define Europe as one spot, but we need to remember that every country is different. This means different costs in terms of travel, food, and accommodation. If you are on a tight budget, do yourself a favour and skip the most popular (and most expensive) cities like London, Paris, and Rome. There is nothing worse than having to say no to incredible travel opportunities because you can’t afford them. Save these places for another time when you can afford to get your dream VIP tour of the Colosseum or that coveted ticket for Le Moulin Rouge.
The best bet for budget travellers is to go to Central or Eastern Europe. Cities like Prague and Budapest will be more much more affordable, but are still beautiful places to explore and must-sees when it comes to travel in Europe. If you are a little more adventurous and want to get ‘off the beaten path’ consider Bucharest or Sarajevo. Travelling through Eastern Europe can sometimes be a little trickier in terms of language barriers, but the people are kind, the scenery is beautiful, and when it comes to travel in Europe, the prices are pretty cheap.
Travelling in Europe is an incredible opportunity that every travel addict should do at least once in their lifetime. Follow these suggestions and you will quickly find backpacking Europe on a budget isn’t quite as difficult as you think.